Jimmie Johnson Gets New A Crew Chief

| , RacinToday.com Monday, July 29 2019
Jimmie Johnson to pursue Playoff berth with new crew chief. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Harold Hinson)


Hendrick Motorsports announced Monday that Jimmie Johnson has been assigned a new crew chief. Out is Kevin Meendering and in is Cliff Daniels.

Johnson, pursuing a record eighth NASCAR Cup Series championship has not won a race since last season. He is at risk of missing this year’s 16-driver, 10-race Playoffs which begin in five weeks at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Daniels will take over as crew chief effective immediately and be atop the pit box for Sunday’s road course race at Watkins Glen International.

Daniels, 31, won the 2016 Cup Series championship as Johnson’s race engineer the team announced.

“We have great confidence in Cliff’s ability to win races with Jimmie and the team,” said Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick. “He’s a natural leader and tremendously talented from both a technical and communication standpoint. Cliff’s familiarity with Jimmie and the No. 48 team culture will benefit us a ton. He will bring the spark that’s been our missing ingredient.”

Meendering, in his first season atop Johnson’s pit box, will remain with Hendrick in a senior competition role.

“Kevin is a talent,” Hendrick said. “We have areas where he can make a major impact and help all four of our teams be successful. Everyone thinks the world of him, and we plan to keep him as a key member of our organization for as long as he wants to be here.”

Through 21 races in 2019, Johnson, 43, has one pole position and eight top-10 finishes including three top-fives. He is currently 17th in the driver standings, 12 points below the playoff cut line.

“Cliff has really shined since he came back to the ‘48,’” Johnson said. “When he returned, there was an immediate change in the team dynamic that all of us felt. We’ve worked together for a long time, have a ton of mutual respect and a shared vision. I have no doubt the strong connection and working relationship is going to pay dividends right away.

“I’m so grateful to Kevin. He’s a truly awesome person who I think very, very highly of. I’m looking forward to continuing to work with him in his new role. He’s a brilliant guy and will make all of us better.”

Daniels is a former stock car driver who raced late models in and around Virginia at tracks like Langley, Southside and South Boston. After earning a mechanical engineering degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, he was hired by RAB Racing in 2011. He was a race engineer for driver Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing for two seasons (2013 and 2014) before joining Hendrick Motorsports.

“We have an opportunity to win an eighth championship and a lot more races with Jimmie,” Daniels said. “I’m proud to be in this position and have total faith in the team and our ability to perform at the level everyone expects. We have the best driver, the best organization and the best leadership, so everything we need to be successful is in place. It’s always been my goal to become a crew chief, and I’m thankful to Mr. Hendrick for his confidence.”

| , RacinToday.com Monday, July 29 2019
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